Bioventure’s founder Lin Yi: Bioventure is a black horse in the pharmaceutical investment field

In life, many people believe what they see, while a few see what they believe. 

There are some industry captains who are camouflaged in modesty, but are forerunners who direct the industry and inadvertently make their enterprises stronger. In the venture capital industry, Dr. Lin Yi, co-founder of Bioventure is indeed such a person. He gave a face-to-face interview on his participation in the Device China 2019 in SIP. 

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Lin Yi has a rich resume and has transited from a technologist to a professional consultant and investor in the venture capital industry. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in the Department of Biology at Peking University in his early years, a doctoral degree in Molecular Biology from School of Medicine, Columbia University, and earned an MBA from the University of Chicago.  

Calming down is inequivalent to cooling   

These two phrases, “calming down”and“cooling”have frequently been mentioned in the pharmaceutical investment industry since 2018. 

“Calming down is not equal to cooling down the temperature”. According to Mr. Lin, the current investment environment is conducive to the pharmaceutical industry cooling down, which will allow high-quality pharmaceutical enterprises to be screened, with focus on innovation. 

Lin entered the biopharmaceutical investment industry in 2009, when VC funds in the biopharmaceutical industry were rare. However, over the past several years, the field has changed and investment slowly emerging, ranking top three in the industry distribution of investment value in the primary market. 

“Over the past one year, changes in the macroeconomic environment brought by deleveraging and Sino-US trade friction have indeed had tangible impact on the pharmaceutical investment industry.” But in Lin’ view, the biggest challenge facing the industry is the high valuation of most underlying assets. 

Since its inception in 2013, Bioventure focuses on early-stage venture capital in the life sciences and aims at developing into one of the most successful medical and pharmaceutical venture funds in China. This is Bioventure’s mission and vision. “We have been composed, and so we hardly feel the cooling down of the industry.” Lin said. 

In the past six years, the grand value of the third phase Renminbi fund has reached RMB 4 billion. It has deployed investment in more than 60 high-quality projects from Ascentage Pharma, Impact Therapeutics, Pegbio, Fountain Medical Development Co., Ltd (FMD), JHL Biotech, Basecare, Kintor and Admera Health. 

The company currently engages in businesses such as new drug innovation, innovative medical devices, in vitro diagnosis/precision medicine, medical services (CRO/CMO/ specialized hospital). Lin said, “Before investing in a project, we prioritize whether it can solve the bottlenecks in the clinical trials.”   

Investment in biopharmaceutical industry and medical device industry is a long term process. Lin emphasized, “It is a low season, and our partners need to be more patient, so do investors and entrepreneurial teams.”

Improving in value-added services 

 “Some venture capital funds only invest in some enterprises, until they are listed, then they sell their share. But this is not Bioventure’s investment model. ” Lin said repeatedly. Bioventure is not just a venture investor, but rather a strategic investor.  

Presently, Bioventure has invested in more than 60 projects with over 40 of them having raised their valuations. Lin touched on how to control risks while ensuring benefits, and concluded by saying that “enterprises should continually improve value-added services”

Lin suggested that, “Most of the entrepreneurs I have touched are excellent scientists with professional knowledge, but not necessarily good entrepreneurs. They are often stubborn and are ignorant of the product’s market potential.” 

 “In this case, Bioventure will carry out SWOT analysis and give counter suggestion on those with strong flexibility. Bioventure also mentors enterprises it invests in to enhance their corporate governance structures and levels among other value-added services to enhance their investment value. 

 “Investment, in essence, invests in entrepreneurs.” Lin said. The outstanding entrepreneurs generally feature four following characteristics: High cognitive level, cooperation spirit, open mind and resilience. The cognitive competence and mental quality of start-up founders is the key to success in a fiercely competitive field. 

 “Take our partner Pegbio, a pharmaceutical enterprise with focus on drug innovation, as an example. We have teamed up with Pegbio for many years, and invested its first-phase and second-phase funds. The reason that we invested in Pegbio’s projects and teams is that its founder, Dr. Xu Min, is a man who positively acts on our advice.”   

Pegbio’s CEO Xu Min said, “Pegbio is developing a drug for the treatment of type Ⅱ diabetes. As a global innovative product, it is about to enter the global Phase Ⅲ clinical trial. It features accurate curative effect and high safety levels. At the same time, it independently developed world’s first weekly dosage for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The drug is under clinical trial after getting approval of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

Lin said he hoped all enterprise founders would keep true to their original mission and persist in their dreams. In the enterprises growth, capital is an indispensable part, but founders should not be complacent after easily securing financing. After all, not all enterprises can ensure the “snowball” growth in terms of financing amount and valuation. 

Boasting important perfect partners 

For the question, “compared with other venture capital fund, what does Bioventure have advantages?” Lin answered laughingly the company boasted a perfect partner, namely BioBay. Additionally, the professional background and consultant team were highlights of the company. 

It’s noteworthy that BioBay is not only a major supporter of Bioventure, but also a vital partner of the company. Lin said it was important for a professional fund to find a good partner. BioBay is home to more than 400 excellent pharmaceutical enterprises, providing a platform for Bioventure to conduct screening processes for good projects. 

Bioventure has successfully invested in new drug discovery projects, most of which were from BioBay-based enterprises. For example, founder by Dr. Tong Youzhi, Kintor is a high-tech innovative enterprise, committed to anti-cancer drug discovery. Its product Proxalutamide, a 1.1 Class Innovative Drug for the treatment of prostate cancer and breast cancer, is in the Phase III clinical trial for prostate cancer indications. It was also selected into the “Significant New Drugs Development” Program for the 12th Five-year Plan. 

Surprisingly, Bioventure recently invested in a project from BioBay-based BrightGene Bio-Medical Technology Co., Ltd. The company has been listed in Sci-Tech innovation board (STAR Market) as the first of its kind across SIP. Founded by Dr. Yuan Jiandong, who studies in the US, BrightGene is a new biopharmaceutical company that engages in the R&D and manufacturing of innovative medicine as well as special generic APIs and FDFs. 

In conclusion, Mr. Lin said Bioventure was a “small dark horse” in the pharmaceutical investment industry, boasting of great potential in the present and future. 

As the best partner, BioBay has been gone into harvest season through ten years of efforts and cultivation. Its enterprises have been taken shape in the capital market. For example, BeiGene, Hutchison Whampoa and Zai Lab were listed in the US’ NASDAQ; Innovent and Cstone were listed in HK Stock Exchange; BrightGene was debuted in STAR Market and HOB Biotech Group is applying for it. There are 20 enterprises which have completed share reform or are preparing to go public.

 

 

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